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The Church Responds to the LSU Employee Lawsuit and Notes about What Comes Next

On Tuesday, August 2, 2011, the Adventist Review carried an announcement from the church’s top attorney Karnik Doukmetzian, asserting that the litigation filed by La Sierra University employees Jeffry Kaatz, James Beach, and Gary Bradley is “without merit, and will be defended in the most appropriate manner.”

He said that “External counsel has been retained through Adventist Risk Management which provides insurance coverage for the defendants involved, and will be defending the organization and individuals named in the suit.”

However, he did not identify the name of the law firm that Adventist Risk Management has chosen to handle this responsibility.

The Redlands law firm McCuneWright, LLP, filed the action against La Sierra University, the Pacific Union Conference, the North American Division, as well as against Ricardo Graham, the president of the Pacific Union Conference, Dan Jackson, president of the North American Division and Larry Blackmer, vice president for education of the North American Division.

The church defendants now have a 30-day period to respond to the charges.

August 28, 29 is the date for the constituency meeting of the Pacific Union Conference and the election of officers. The nominating committee had already returned Ricardo Graham’s name for the position of president before the LSU lawsuit was filed. With their yes or no vote, delegates will decide whether the litigation and its injunction against Graham should affect his employment status. An additional item on the agenda for the meeting will be whether or not to change the Union’s bylaws provision for the selection of the nominating committee. The Pacific Union is the only union that has its executive committee serve as the nominating committee (with  11 additional people added by the conferences). Delegates will be given the option of amending the bylaws to be consistent with other unions in naming a unique committee to perform the nominating function.

Attorney and LSU Board of Trustees member Meredith Jobe will chair the LSU Bylaws Committee sessions as it drafts a response to the July 5 letter from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. In its July 5 letter to LSU,  WASC gave the university 90 days to draft bylaw changes that would create an independent governing board.   

Readers of the news about La Sierra on this web site have asked for more information about the Adventist Accrediting Association. In 2008, an article about the Association appeared in the Journal of Adventist Education. For further information about the AAA, read it here:

 The composition of the AAA Board is set out in the General Conference Working Policy as follows:

Chair, Director GC Department of Education

Executive Secretary, Associate Director GC Department of Education

Ex-Officio Members: GC President, GC Secretary, GC Treasurer

GC Vice President – Education Advisory (s)

Treasury Advisor

Four Associate Directors – GC Department of Education

ECD Education Director

ESD Education Director

EUD Education Director

IAD Education Director

NAD Education Director

NSD Education Director

SAD Education Director

SID Education Director

SPD Education Director

SSD Education Director

SUD Education Director

TED Education Director

WAD Education Director

College/University Board Chairman


College/President Academic VP/Dean

College/University Registrar/Admissions Officer

College/University Finance Officer

College/University Dean/Department Chair of Education

Union Director of Education

Conference Director of Education

GC Chaplaincy Ministries Director or designee

Three Individual with International Experience in Adventist Education

Two Individuals Engaged in Education Not Employed by the Church

Invitees: Representative from Adventist Risk Management, Representative from General Conference Accounting Services, Representative from Office of General Counsel

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